Signs of Spring


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Finally, we are edging towards warmer days. The last week or two we’ve had a series of warmer days, though yesterday we dipped back into the 30s and 40s and I was shivering once again, but we’re on the upswing. Soon I’ll be dripping in sweat when I step outside—thanks high humidity!

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I’m ok with that, though. Give me tank tops, shorts, and flip flops any day. The bright side is that all of the tropical plants are providing a flush of green to the garden after hibernating inside for more of the winter than usual.

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But the fig tree they all hang on is putting on leaf buds and soon the side yard garden will be shady once again. I’m always amazed at how it can go from an open canopy to dense and lush in the height of summer.

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Formosa lilies poking out of the ground.

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Brown and crunchy for now, but at the base of a lot of that is new growth!

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Looks like a coreopsis seedling to me.

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Much work needs to be done and my lunch breaks will start to be dedicated to cutting back and prepping for growth from now on.

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Out in the edible garden, we’re rolling in greens. Still loving the Florida broadleaf mustard.

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It has been a spectacular year for spinach! Normally we struggle with germination and thriving but this year it was cold enough for the spinach to grow well.

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All of the parsley seemed to germinate and grow rather slowly back in the fall but it has survived the ice and freezes just fine.

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And now the kohlrabi is beginning to produce bulbs. I’m really looking forward to having some of these in a month or two!

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The mustard spinach took a bit to get established, having fought off snails and various caterpillars back when it was beginning to grow in the fall but these last few weeks have shown tremendous growth.

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My cabbage appears to want to start producing heads…finally. It’s been slow going on those, too.

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My trusty garden helper!

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Having all of the greens available during this time of year is so wonderful. It’s too bad I’m having to buy onions and tomatoes at the store to have a good salad, but such is life here in zone 9.

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I need to tie up some of the blackberry canes and trim up a few dead canes I didn’t get to last summer. Otherwise they are primed for flowering here in a few months. I’m already thinking about what I will do with the harvest this year—we have a lot of jam still from last year—so make a small batch of jam and then freeze the rest we don’t eat fresh?

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Lacinato kale

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Forest is anxiously awaiting carrots once again. He ate all of the ones I planted for him in the fall and now we’re waiting on Chris’ batch to be ready to pull.

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I was delighted to see the strawberries blooming a week or so ago! That was the biggest sign of spring I had seen so far. *phew*

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And the rhododendrons are budding, too. Can’t wait!

I’m keeping an eye out around the area for redbud blooms but no such luck quite yet!

Any signs of spring where you are?

Sunday Reads + Listens


Some things I’ve read and listened to in the last few months that have resonated with me.

  • How to support the artists + writers you love via Ashlee Gadd.

    1. If they write something lovely that resonates with you, leave a comment. When you leave a comment on a blog post or essay or article, that is your way of saying, “I’m here! I read this!” Comments (well, nice ones) make the writer feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. You don’t need to leave a comment on every post—just once in a while when something really resonates with you.

  • That Favorite Place via Rambling Hemlock

    So I lay on the rocks and feel the coolness of the earth supporting me. The La Sals are covered in clouds off in the distance and wonder if I will ever again climb their peaks. I run my fingers along the sleeping branches of a cottonwood, knowing that no matter what happens to me, that this canyon will wake up in a few months, that the leaves will expand, that the caterpillars will hatch from eggs and munch away. And it is comforting to know this place will be here no matter what.

  • We need to talk about postpartum rage—and why it happens. via Motherly.

    In the case of postpartum rage, I often find that the anger is alerting us to feelings of being overwhelmed, resentment at not being appreciated or acknowledged by those close to us, isolation from our usual social supports, uncertainty about acclimating to our new life as a mom, and guilt related to our perceived failures in mothering.

  • Rating Tomatoes: Which Ones are Best to Eat via Growing with Plants.

    Believe me, gardeners can get seriously geeky about tomatoes.

    First off, don’t assume that all heirloom tomatoes are good to eat, also don’t assume that the nursery will grow only the best varieties. You will need to do some research, read all of the catalogs and some of the best books on tomatoes out there (I share some of those later in this post), and then make your own decisions based on what you will be using you tomatoes for. You might want sweeter varieties or some that are more acidic for caning. Meaty or savory varieties might be preferred over slicers, or you might be planning on making sauce and not eating them all raw with sea salt. If you are like me, you night be able to find a reason to grow every one.

  • Nature in Broward: The Silent Crisis of Local Rare Species Extinction via the Florida Native Plant Society.

    A recent review of vegetation maps and firsthand knowledge of Broward natural areas reveals that less than 3.5% of metropolitan land remains for nature. Some ecosystems, such as Scrub, Pine Flatwoods, and Wet Prairie, are now 1% of their size in 1943. Late conservation efforts enabled by Preservation 2000 and Forever Florida gave us a patchwork of small, isolated preserves. Each is important and valuable as a last remnant of a unique subtropical ecosystem. Some have an evolutionary history tens of thousands of years old. Five hundred plant species are living in these metropolitan parks and preserves. By comparison, two hundred plant species live in the large western wetlands, the Everglades Wildlife Management Areas. Therefore, our greatest biodiversity is within metropolitan Broward.

  • Keeping Wild Spaces Wild: The Ethics of Social Media via Trail Groove magazine, written by Paul Magnanti.

    As outdoor people in this age of social media, it is not enough to not litter, camp 200′ away from streams, and limit our physical group numbers. We have the responsibility to preserve the wild places to the extent we can.

  • Bears Ears in Crisis via Bedrock and Paradox.

    The Antiquities Act has always had problems, and the way in which Trump and his administration are bringing it to a head is no different than all the other ways in which he is highlighting contradictions long dormant in our society and government. Our best and only hope is that Trump himself will pass on to the shadows sooner, and leave in his wake newfound motivation to confront and manage that which we have avoided for so long.

  • The Seriously Cool Red Cedar via The Common Milkweed.

    Red Cedars sometimes get a bad rap because they “invade prairies and pasture lands,” but it’s really all about management and the land’s current hydrology, browse factor, etc. Keep them out of the prairies so the prairies can be prairies and pasture can be pasture, but let them grow in old fields and fencerows and yards and recovering forest. Eastern North America had a magnificent, spectacular forest once that we can only dream of and yes, we feel overwhelming grief for what was carelessly destroyed, but we don’t dwell in that part of our knowledge because we can’t. Instead we plant and plant and plant.

  • Maggie Haberman on the Katie Couric Podcast: Haberman is a writer for the NYT and has covered 45 extensively in the last 10 years and has a lot of great insight to his mind and inner workings.
  • The Nuanced Life Podcast: I love everything about this podcast.
  • Practical, Positive, and Peaceable by Charles Eisenstein via the Root Simple Podcast. Originally aired prior to the 2016 election but so, so eerie to listen to now in that you can see it was practically the writing on the wall of what was to come.
  • Routes Podcast: A podcast about long distance hiking. Absolutely have loved every episode I’ve listened to, particularly Erin ‘Wired’ Saver’s episode.
  • REI Presents: Leave It Better | Packing it Out: a short documentary on YouTube about a pair of friends bike packing across country and picking up trash.

Nopales Ridge Trail | Lake Brownwood State Park


Ah, let’s flash back to Thanksgiving of 2017 once more to wrap up our hiking adventures there, shall we? We haven’t ventured out much so far this year, though I do have some photos to process for one night of camping a couple of weekends ago. I’m hoping that in a few short weeks the weather will warm up enough that we will want to be venturing out much more often! Actually, it isn’t that the weather hasn’t warmed up (finally!), just that it seems to be that we have inclement weather on the weekends lately, which doesn’t make for a large desire to be outside.

Onward to the hike!

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We hit up the Nopales Ridge Trail at Lake Brownwood State Park for a late morning hike during our Thanksgiving trip. The parking lot was deserted and we ended up being the only ones on the trail until closer to lunch time when we passed a couple of people out hiking. As we came around a bend into an opening I saw this mistletoe, initially thinking it was an orchid! Hah, I know, old habits, but that’s what I thought until I shook myself out of plant dumbness and realized it was mistletoe.

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We noticed there was a small birds nest tucked into the plant and then I found that there was fishing line making up part of the nest. I attempted to pull it out but it would have destroyed the nest so I gave up.

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Part of the trail wound through little oak mottes with openings to the prairie. We wound in and out of both of these habitats frequently.

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A bluebonnet seedling prepping for spring!

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Around one bend I spotted a pile of milkweed fluff. Only half the seed pod was intact and the plant itself had died back already so I wasn’t able to figure out which species it was. Just by the nature of the seed pod I’ll take a stab and call it antelope horn.

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We stopped for a snack break right around the corner at a bench so Forest could have a snack.

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Slowly we climbed up the ridge for a view of the lake. I’d thought we were already at the top of a plateau but we must have either slowly descended the plateau or we weren’t as high up as I had thought. Either way, we climbed up for a better view of our surroundings.

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I got a kick out of the prickly pears being all epiphytic!

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Then we found another bench to rest at and I poked around while Forest had another snack. Hiking is hard work for a 3-year old! Unfortunately, as I was poking around I lifted up a rock to see what kind of wildlife might be under it and instead found a smashed water bottle! WHAT??? People, pack it out!

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Overall it was just a quiet, enjoyable hike! I wish I’d snapped some photos of the bluestem grasses at the end because the light was shining through them beautifully but my camera battery died.

I really loved this park and wish it was a bit closer of a drive for us! It’s a bit of a haul even to make a yearly trek to!

January 2018 Book Report


It’s been a fairly productive month of reading around here—much to my surprise. Ok, so one of of them is actually from the tail-end of last year but I had already written my book write-up for the year. Eh, no big deal, right?

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+Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon: I subscribe to Kleon’s weekly newsletter and occasionally read his blog, and have heard about his work for quite awhile now but never actually read a book. Annnnnnd….can’t say it was worth the experience. It feels like a repackaged set of blog posts to sell as a kitsch book item. This doesn’t mean Kleon’s blog or other writings aren’t good, they usually are, but this was over rated. After reading some reviews I found I was not alone. Skip this and read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art if you are looking for similar inspiration.

+Wild Edible Plants of Texas: A Pocket Guide to the Identification, Collection, Preparation, and Use of 60 Wild Plants of the Lone Star State by Charles W. Kane: This one feels a bit like cheating to add this one to the list because it is a small field guide type book but I know I will find myself using it for reference over and over the years.

+The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James: I picked this up at a flea market near Caddo Lake in November of 2016 and just now got around to reading it. In the mood for fiction, I thought a fluffy Jane Austen re-visioning sounded easy enough to read. It was fluffy but also not so fluffy that you just breezed through it and rolled your eyes at another Austen remake. As you can tell from the title there’s a missing Jane Austen manuscript and there’s a story that ensues with a woman finding a previously unknown letter from Jane to her sister Cassandra that hints about a manuscript that Jane wrote that went missing. Considering there’s a manuscript involved you can also expect a story within the story!

+The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn: I didn’t mean to read two Austen adjacent novels back to back but this one came up in Overdrive after I had been on the wait list for months so I pretty much devoured it in a couple of days when I was sick a few weeks ago. This one isn’t like any Austen remake novel I’ve read. It involves time travel with two characters, a man and woman, sent back in time from a semi-dystopian future in order to steal the letters Jane and Cassandra wrote each other (Cassandra destroyed most of their correspondence when Jane died) in addition to trying to locate the full draft of Austen’s The Watson’s, a legit book that was never finished by Austen. Of course the main characters interact with Jane and her family and well, you have to read it! I really enjoyed it and was captivated throughout the entire story.

+The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham: I technically started this book last October but put it down about halfway through, continuing to pick it up and down over the last few months. I finally finished it on the drive back home from camping last weekend and I wondered to myself why I took so long to finish it. I Loved This Book! It’s equal parts nature, family/genealogy, and culture, with a dash of hunting. It reminded me a bit of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray, which come to find out later, the author thanked Ray in the credits. You can see some of Lanham’s Audubon articles here and some videos over here.

What have you been reading?

Fun with a Slackline!


I’ve wanted a slackline for several years now and at Christmas we decided to gift my brother’s family one for when they go camping and Chris bought one for us at the same time. Last weekend we set it up at our campsite at Lake Livingston State Park and had some fun! Let’s just say I have even more respect for Philippe Petit of Man on Wire fame. Woo boy, is this hard but fun! Chris did end up stretching out another rope up top and I did get better with balancing. I tried with shoes on too but I like the feeling of going without shoes as you are better able to grip the line.

If you do any kind of front country camping or even want to have one in your backyard, it is really fun to try! I can’t wait to get better at balancing so I can work on trying some different tricks!

Life Lately | Mid-January 2018


+In My Head
Well, 2018 has started with a bang! Almost two weeks ago (tomorrow) Forest came down with a fever one evening and was feeling rather awful with runny nose, coughing, etc. Considering the flu has been horrible around here this year I was worried we were heading that direction. After all was said and done I’m not sure if we had the flu or a very bad cold, but either way I came down with it the following Monday evening and subsequently took 4 days of PTO. I was going to take three but that Friday Forest was cranky again and we both stayed home because we were definitely not 100% quite yet. I haven’t taken 4 days of PTO for being sick in for-ev-er. It really knocked me out and all I wanted to do was sleep. Forest went to daycare on most of those days that week but for Tuesday and Friday he was with me. Thankfully I persuaded him into a nap on Friday. We are better now with some little bits of snot here and there.

And then we got this awful freeze again. So, four days off work last week, two days off this week, and then an unexpected balancing act between Chris and I when we found out daycare was closed yesterday because they had a burst pipe from the freeze. Thankfully daycare was open today because I didn’t want to be eating more PTO!

With all of that said and done, I am ready for spring. I’m ready to clean up the yard, ready for warm weather, and I’m just tired of being cold all the time. Let’s get back to our regularly scheduled winter conditions, alright?

+Watching
I’m still on my Charmed binge on Netflix. I’m about a quarter of the way through season 7. There’s one more season after this. So at this point it is 2004-2005 and several years after 9/11 and there are still some well placed American flags all over the place. A flag on the fridge, a well-placed pillow in Phoebe’s work office. Oh, and the incorporation of Homeland Security. I just find this very interesting, the before and afters of 9/11 in pop-culture. Still loving the show even though it has evolved. I didn’t catch a lot of these later episodes in real time so some of them are new to me.

Victoria on PBS has started up again. I loved it last season and having just finished the latest season of The Crown in December this is the perfect thing to get your British monarchy fix. I like seeing how much she had to battle sexism while being the sovereign of her country, particularly in regards to her role as a mother. She had 9 children!

This is Us is back on and I’m still on board the train for this show. Love it! Still can’t decide if I like Kevin.

The Big Bang Theory is still great and I always laugh. I’ve seen some criticism that the show needs to end but I think it has a few years left in it.

There are some things on Netflix I want to watch but just haven’t been in a movie mode lately.

+Outside My Window
Bleak, brown, mid-winter.

+Making
Not much, aka: nothing. I know my word for this year is strong but I also feel like it is very much also a Marie Kondo type year, which means I’m ready to start purging all of the stuff. I’ve been slowly selling baby stuff and maternity stuff, which I mentioned the last time I did one of these. I’ve been having some trouble with some of it and finally ordered a cleanout kit from ThredUp to send in the best maternity items. That got mailed yesterday. The rest will get donated. I’m finally at the point that if I have tried selling something at least twice it is going into the donate pile.

What all of this means is that I’m also going to be working on cleaning up our storage areas where a lot of this stuff is located. Some of it is extra baby items but some of it is just crap we need to go through. I’m also sick of looking at the shed so I’m going to have to get Chris on board with cleaning that up soon as well as taking a hard look at his closet, which is where we store our luggage, backpacking gear, and important paperwork.

One area at a time but there is something to be said for the extra crap in the house having an impact on your own mental health. So, how is this involved in the Making section? Well, part of this has to do with my studio. It needs to be cleaned out, and cleaning out the storage area that is behind my studio (through a door, kind of an extra attic space) is also involved with my studio. If I can clean that up I can move some stuff that is in my studio awaiting storage into there.

+In The Garden
See recent posts.

I think most of the edible garden will pull through just fine with just a bit of minimal loss. Only time will tell on the flower garden.

+Reading
I’ve read two Jane Austen adjacent novels this month. One was The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen which was a delightful little read. The second was The Jane Austen Project which was even better and unlike any of the Austen adjacent books I’ve read before. I definitely wanted more. I read this during my sick stupor last week.

I’ll do a book report at the end of the month because I’m hoping to finish up at least one more book this month.

+Loving
Whole bean, ground to my liking, decaf coffee. All of the flavor and taste of a good cup of coffee without the shakes and jitters after.

I’m a convert.

I have had the worst time finding good decaf coffee and finding whole bean decaf is even harder. I bought some from the bulk bins at Sprouts right before Christmas and just ground it a week or two ago and I don’t know if I can go back to regular coffee. I feel much better having the decaf, which was kind of a reason I went off coffee last fall for a few weeks. It was making me a little nutty after drinking it. I have one bag of fully leaded coffee in the pantry and after I drink that I think I’ll be keeping up this decaf whole bean business. One of my problems with pre-ground decaf is that the grind is too fine and I find it produces a bitter brew. I’ve found a rougher grind is much tastier and really makes a better brew. Having the ability to grind it myself is something I’ve come to find immensely satisfying when creating that perfect cup every morning. I like drinking tea but it isn’t a morning drink for me, I much prefer having it in the afternoon. So when I thought I was going to have to switch to tea eventually because of the jitter issue, I wasn’t thrilled.

So, problem solved!

What’s up with you?

That One Time Everything Iced


Ugh. This winter y’all. This winter is becoming unbearable. I don’t even know what zone I’m in anymore. Is this really gardening zone 9a? Sure hasn’t looked or felt like it. I’ve read a couple of articles about how the jet stream has been situated the last several winters to create harsher winters in the east and mild winters in the west and how it may be tied to global warming but no one is quite sure yet. Despite all of that, I think after the last several winters we may need to re-evaluate replanting certain plants like citrus. And only time will tell if the other tropical plants in the side yard garden or in the other areas of the garden will come back. After last year’s deep freeze it took the brugmansias until late April to start coming up. This year? Who knows.

With it getting down to about 16* last night there will definitely be a set back for a lot of plants around here. So, with that, let’s take it back to Monday when I took some photos of the garden before the freeze and ice and then I’ll share what I took yesterday while it was sleeting. It sleeted hard on and off all day. Definitely not as magical as the snow last month!

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The edible garden is really starting to come into its full winter game. A few things seem to have grown slower than usual due to our colder winter but I suppose that is also good because we will hopefully have less early bolting.

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Red giant mustard

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Lush lettuce and lettuce mix

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The spinach was starting to take off as well—we haven’t had great success with spinach in the past because our winters have been warmer but this year seems to have been a spinach year for us!

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Happy parsley! I almost over summered my parsley last year only for Harvey to take it out with flooding. Crossing my fingers that the freeze didn’t take it out this year so I can try once again to over summer my parsley!

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The kohlrabi hasn’t started bulbing yet but the leaves are finally filling out more.

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Fat and happy bok choy. This will be mush when it warms up.

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Florida broadleaf mustard

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The lettuce was really tasty—I had just started making salads and using a lot of the greens in my lunches.

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bokchoy

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Still looking drab in the flower garden. I’m glad I haven’t done any garden cleanup yet and I’m going to attempt to not do anything until mid-February and then look at the 10 day forecast and see what the rest of February has in store in case we have another bad freeze.

Our office was closed yesterday (and is closed today, too) so we were home yesterday. Chris had gotten up early to work in his man cave on some doors for his aquarium and had planned on wrapping a couple of the outside faucets when he was done. The high for the day was somewhere early that morning and the temperature was expected to just keep dropping all day. Forest and I got up and I made coffee and things were running fine until late morning when Chris noticed the water pressure was poor, eventually fading to nothing. Now we were faced with the possibility our pipes were freezing and he scurried outside to trace the problem. After almost an hour he finally found the problem—the switch at the well pump had frozen. He defrosted that and wrapped it and we had water again but he did have to go around defrosting some of the faucets outside before he wrapped those. And that’s the same fate this morning, the switch froze again over night despite being wrapped and some of the faucets froze despite being wrapped. And the drain pipe to our washing machine froze and we ended up with water in the laundry room when Chris tried to run the water in the washing machine to keep it open this morning. We aren’t used to this. I don’t like it!

As it was sleeting yesterday I made trips outside mid-morning to cover up the citrus and some of our edibles in the garden. It had rained overnight and we didn’t want to put sheets out the night before only to have wet sheets that then froze so we thought waiting until morning would work. I’m afraid it might have been too late because the citrus were looking rough and most of the edibles were frozen solid. I covered things anyway, hoping for the best.

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One of the citrus ghosts!

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Post-Freeze Damage Assessment in the Garden


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We left for DFW the day after Christmas and in advance Chris moved a lot of the tropical plants like the bromeliads and orchids into the man-cave to spend some time under the grow lights while we were gone. It wasn’t supposed to get terribly cold while we were gone but after our mishap last year of leaving town and not taking care of moving and covering some plants because we weren’t expecting that cold of weather, this time we learned our lesson and did some advanced planning. We knew that just as we were planning to return home that we were expecting a deep freeze so doing some work ahead of time was good. We were planning to return on New Years Eve with a bit of time before the freezing weather arrived. As it was we barely made it back before it blew in….and we almost didn’t make it out of Fort Worth on Sunday late morning.

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Our plans for leaving Fort Worth were for early to mid-afternoon on Sunday but as we looked at the forecast we bumped it up a little bit earlier. And then that morning came around and Chris began packing the car and after he came in asking for an ice scraper we realized we had to get out of town sooner than planned. We quickly scurried around to get everything together, out the door, and out of town. With temperatures in the mid 20s and mixed precipitation as well as wet roads from drizzle over night, it was not a pretty sight on the roads. We started by attempting to take highways with detours on side streets to avoid high overpass exchanges between highways but after seeing wreck after wreck and people completely unsure of themselves as they drove on overpasses, we got off I-35 and took the scenic route through east Fort Worth. I was familiar with some of the streets but I definitely saw areas of Fort Worth I hadn’t seen before!

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Even on the side streets it was iffy and we witnessed a wreck happen after someone decided to change lanes at the last minute at the downhill slope of a bridge and their tail end hit the person who was stopped to turn left in front of them. Forest had thankfully fallen asleep during all of this so Chris drove while I watched the GPS to look for roads to get us south of the I-20/I-35 exchange in south Fort Worth. Finally, we made it over to I-35 and people were driving a little faster and roads weren’t as icy because the precipitation hadn’t arrived that far south in heavy enough doses quite yet. I don’t think we felt quite ‘safe’ until closer to Hillsboro and maybe even Waco when we got off on Tx 6. The ice on Chris’ antenna never really totally melted until we got close to College Station!

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At home it was balmy and in the 50s. Thankfully we had some light left and Chris moved the remaining plants indoors and I took the pots off the potting bench and put them up against the house under the porch, wrapping sheets around everything. Chris put sheets over the just sprouting snap peas and I threw some over a few other greens that might be more tender than other greens like kale.. A few hours later I went back out to put something in the compost and the temperature had dropped precipitously.

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It took a few nights of below freezing temperatures for plants that made it through the snow in December to finally be affected. We don’t usually have multi-day deep freezes and this was quite annoying for us. I felt like I could never stay warm enough, sometimes wearing two jackets inside and bundling up at work.

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Finally, by the end of the week it started to thaw just a bit and the sun came out. Phew!

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The edible garden came through with flying colors, though the flower garden had some visible damage. Based on previous experience I expect just about everything to come back but of course time will only tell. I’ll be curious to see how long it takes the brugmansias to return. Last year it was well into April when they started sprouting.

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Inspired by Gayla’s Time Lapse of her garden, I’m going to attempt my own this year. The goal is once a week photo but I’d like to do more if I can remember.

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Cilantro season!

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The peas, reaching for the sky.

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It’s always annoying when the bok choy bolts early but the bees are always happy about that.

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mustard

This is a great time of year—greens season! I have been putting kale in my lunches and cooking it a bit in the microwave when I reheat it at work. I’ve been pleasantly surprised how good it is because I had only previously eaten raw kale. I’m really impressed!

I would like to get back into taking more garden videos this year so stay tuned!

The Council Bluff and Texas Oak Trails | Lake Brownwood State Park


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It was brisk when we set off on the Council Bluff Trail the day after Thanksgiving. Forest was on foot, something becoming more common these days, but Chris wore the toddler carrying pack just in case. Sometimes Forest is more adventurous and can finish an entire hike but other times he starts slowing day and dilly-dallying and soon enough he asks to get in the carrier.

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The trail was gorgeous to start, with prickly pears finding ways to adorn themselves to rocks and crannies wherever they could deem suitable.

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It wasn’t a big climb up to the top of the Council Bluffs trail, just enough to feel the burn in your quads. Once on the ridge we got a great view of the lake and surrounding landscape.

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Mistletoe anyone? Very seasonally appropriate!

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The lighting in this section of the trail was gorgeous and I kept stopping to check out different seed heads and ooh and ahh at how the light fell on a plant. The good thing about letting Forest hike instead of ride is that we tend to walk slow enough for me to do this kind of thing. Less walking with a mission, more walking with noticing.

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And of course there were some more fantastic rock outcroppings to ogle at as we wound our way down from the Council Bluffs trail to the Texas Oak trail.

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And then more plants begging to get their photos taken.

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The leaf litter down on the Texas Oak trail had plenty of interesting vegetation to scope out. I really enjoyed this trail.

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More prickly pears doing their succulent-y thing.

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When we walk slower I tend to stop and turn around, to get a glimpse of the other way we aren’t walking. When we move faster it is never on my mind but when I make the effort to turn around I am never disappointed.

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Most of the time my camera didn’t quite capture what I was feeling as I was enamored with the light. I kept trying, though.

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I think the two photos above are yarrow, which I don’t believe I’ve seen ‘wild’ before.

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Excuse me while I keep getting lost in tiny little scenes.

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I did find a Texas buckeye!

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Come on, we can all drool over some lichen, right?

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Bluestem, you never fail for perfect autumn lighting.

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Blackfoot daisy, Melampodium leucanthum, in its preferred habitat. It definitely does not like our mesic garden situation and has rotted every time I’ve planted it. Right native, right place. My garden is not the right place but this spot on the side of the trail was great for it!

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Finally we wove down to the lower Texas Oak trail and huddled the lake shore with gorgeous overlooks.

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I did some self portraiting because I’m realizing I am not in many photos these days.

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Can I just pick this slab up and take it home???

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4

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And my two sweet goofballs!

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And right before Forest found himself riding the rest of the trail out in the backpack, we scoped out a sweet little crag that would have made the perfect preschooler sized hideout!

We hustled back to the car because of said preschooler’s intent to start fading quickly and made a beeline back for the campsite for lunch. It was an excellent morning of adventuring and the trail was beautiful!

One Little Word | 2017 Recap and Plans for 2018


*cue record scratching sound*

I had about a paragraph typed up in here from a draft over the New Year’s weekend but never got around to finishing the post up. Back to the drawing writing board I go!

Honestly, it wasn’t until about a week ago that I really focused on what 2018’s word would be. And I hadn’t given a ton of reflection onto what 2017’s word was until I went back through my archives and remembered what it was. To really get my feet firmly planted in the direction I want to go for 2018, I downloaded the Year Compass to close out 2017 and start brainstorming on 2018. It’s a free download and was worth the time it took to jot down things from my brain.

First, let’s rewind on 2017. I had chosen peace for my word last year without really knowing where I was going with it. The latter portion of 2014 and then 2015 (and parts of 2016) were difficult years for me mentally, and the emotional upheaval of having a baby thrown into our world, and everything surrounding those events, threw everything off kilter. I took a lot of time to process that (and am still processing it) and I watched as 2017 happened and many of the things I read about in getting my head back on straight postpartum kept coming up—the language of it all. It felt like 2017 as a whole was about getting the world/country’s head on straight after the storm of 2016.

Looking back, I know I chose peace to keep working out some of those things from the previous couple of years but it wasn’t until mid year that I began exploring meditation and doing 5 minute increments in the middle of my day as a reset. It didn’t take long for me to feel the mental shift with those 5 minutes and adding in some rough journaling helped as well. I’m a person who will sit and ponder on something for a long time before I can really process it fully and sometimes that is not the best place to be in, stuck in your head.

I kept with the meditation for several months but autumn came and I slipped a bit. It’s time to revive those 5 minute sits and do some more random writing. Every word and every year is just one small layer adding to the bigger picture of a more whole and better person.

As as said, my word for 2018 didn’t come to me until last week. I settled on strong. I’ve written here about getting back into fitness after having Forest and while there have been several instances of some consistency and progress, I’ve never been able to keep that balance going. Frankly, I know it is because I try to do too much and have always wanted to do all the things. Another aspect is that I haven’t figured out what works best for me. Well, long distance hiking works but that’s not feasible, right? Something else I tend to do is think I need to be doing something one particular way for it to “work” but I’m realizing that doesn’t work for me so why was I thinking this? I enjoy what I enjoy and the best thing for me to do is actually be consistent. I can’t keep doing this in fits and starts.

Strong body, strong mind, strong life…that’s where I’m going with for 2018.

I went back to find my first post about One Little Word from after I switched to WordPress for blogging. I’m really laughing at some of those intentions because a few I feel as if I could be writing about today. Except, I’ve come to accept that I am an aspirational runner—I like the idea of running and I enjoy a short 1-3 mile run, but I am probably never going to be running long distances or doing any races. It’s just not me and I accept that now. I get a kick out of the fact that I was off Facebook at that time, too! I just permanently deleted it a few weeks ago. It felt really good to do that. More letters, emails, and texts to friends this year—which is easier said than done. I usually have no problems being the one to reach out, it is everyone else. If it doesn’t happen on Facebook it doesn’t happen anywhere else and that’s so frustrating to me.

2018 will be 10 years since we went to Bolivia, my niece Ashleigh would have turned 8 years old, and it will be 8 years since we thru-hiked the AT. It’s also my 20 year high school reunion—unless they consider Facebook reunion enough for everyone and I won’t have to deal with that. Oh, it’s also mid-term elections at the end of the year which means we need to do some state flipping to blue! Already at the tail-end of another decade—time moves quickly.

With that, what is your word for the year? Or maybe you are doing intentions—share them with me!

Happy New Year everyone!

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